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Discovery Channel Is the Most Distributed in Europe

Shark Week Discovery Channel - H 2013
Discovery Channel
Shark Week, Discovery Channel

According to the latest report from Digital TV Research, the channel hits 212 major operators in 43 countries -- beating Fox's National Geographic and Eurosport in the region.

LONDON -- Discovery Channel is the most widely distributed network in Europe, according to a new report from U.K.-based Digital TV Research.

Covering 270 international channels and networks across 212 major operators in 43 EMEA countries, the report, titled TV Channel Distribution in Europe, concludes that Discovery Channel is available on 171 platforms.

Discovery Channel beats Fox's National Geographic Channel with 169 operators in the region and Eurosport with 164.

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Discovery also has its Animal Planet channel in the 10th spot with 140 operators in Europe. Viacom's MTV with 160 and Turner's CNN with 157 round out the top five channels by carriage, according to the report. The research also notes that HD channels are "growing in importance" as operators look to give subscribers something new.

Of the 270 total tracked, 86 channels (32 percent) transmit in high definition (HD). Fox's National Geographic provides the most distributed HD channel with 126 operators, while Eurosport with 122 and Fox's Nat Geo Wild HD with 85 round out the top three.

Companies stress the importance that a stable of channels has for pan-European success. In this report, 14 groups contributed 257 channels -- or 95 percent of the total. In fact, these groups provided 83 of the 86 HD channels covered.

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Discovery's chart-topping performance is published on the same day the company separately revealed it won the TV, online and mobile rights in Italy for the RBS 6 Nations rugby union tournament in a four-year deal.

From 2014-2017, the matches -- which feature the national sides from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy -- will all be broadcast exclusively on DMAX, one of Discovery Italy’s six DTT channels, free-to-air and live.

Discovery has snaffled rights previously owned by Italy's smallest free-to-air network, La7, the only one not controlled by Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset or Rai. La7 was sold last year and Discovery was in a bidding war for it but did not emerge victorious.

The rugby rights acquisition follows hot on the heels of SBS Discovery Media, the pan-Scandinavian broadcast group Discovery Communications acquired for $1.7 billion earlier this year, inking a deal with European soccer governing body UEFA for exclusive rights for all European qualifying matches ahead of the 2016 European Cup and 2018 soccer World Cup.

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The deal for rugby, following the one for soccer, highlights a shift in the company's programming strategy in Europe.

In addition to the UEFA deal, Discovery late last year paid $223 million (€170 million) for a 20 percent stake in pan-European sports network Eurosport from French broadcaster TF1.